9. Marcus Jones
It only took Marcus Jones’ rookie year for him to become one of the Patriots’ best players.
Drafted 85th overall in 2022, Jones was one of the league’s best special teamers last year. He led the NFL in both punt return yards (362) and yards per punt return (12.5) while averaging 23.9 return yards on 27 kicks, ultimately leading to first-team All-Pro honors as a 24-year-old.
Jones showed that he knows how to exploit open lanes. His biggest highlight of the season came in Week 10 when he recorded an 84-yard punt return touchdown with five seconds left to give the Patriots a 10-3 win over the rival New York Jets.
Having said that, his special teams skills aren’t the only reason why he’s this high on the list.
Jones also played 370 snaps on defense in his first year. While he didn’t earn any individual accolades for his defensive work, he still racked up seven defended passes, two interceptions (one Pick-6), and a 75.4 passer rate.
The fact that he can be as effective as he is on both sides of the ball can’t be ignored. Jones is a special player who could easily move up a few spots if he can replicate (or improve upon) last year’s results.
8. Hunter Henry
Hunter Henry is the umpteenth Patriot who underperformed last season. While some of that is on him, a good percentage stems from how much of a mess the team’s offense was at times.
Henry finished his seventh NFL campaign with 41 catches for 509 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For some fanbases, that’s a fairly solid season. For the Patriots faithful, it was disappointing considering that the Little Rock, AR native finished with nine TDs in 2021 while his performance also marked the end of his streak of three consecutive 600-yard campaigns.
Keeping that in mind, all signs point to Henry potentially having his best season to date if the offense can stay healthy and Mac Jones gets his head screwed on correctly.
His 12.4 yards per reception and 69.5% catch percentage were both his highest marks since the 2019 season. He was also tied with Jakobi Meyers for a team-high seven red-zone targets and now that the wideout has moved on to Sin City, Henry should see a few extra looks.
Considering that he won’t even be turning 30 until December 2024, it’s far too early to write Henry off just yet. The talent is there, so give him a chance to bounce back and prove that he is one of the Patriots’ best players.